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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  WHUT  November 15, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EST

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this week on "to the contrary," first, historic gains for women. then, the part women played in the obama win. behind the headlines, the challenges faced by returning women veterans. >> hello, i'm bonnie erbe. welcome to "to the contrary," a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, women make history. executive producer cari stein has that story. >> a record number of women will
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hold u.s. senate seats in january. after victories in massachusetts, north dakota, hawaii, wisconsin and nebraska, five new female senators will be on capitol hill. that's 20 women senators, a net gain of three. for massachusetts, north dakota, hawaii, and wisconsin, these women are the first female senators from their states. hawaii's mazie hirono will be the first asian-american female senator, and wisconsin's tammy baldwin the first openly gay senator. at least 77, possibly 79 women will take their seats in the house of representatives, only a modest gain. the number of democratic women in the house will rise from 51 to 63. republicans added one woman. in new hampshire, another first. the election of a female governor and two women to the house, makes it the first state to be led primarily by women.
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the classic women's issue -- reproductive rights also made history in this election becoming for the first time in decades a winning issue for democrats. >> so, congresswoman norton, what was the most historic aspect of the 2012 election? >> bonnie, the election of '12 was a strong echo of the election of 1992, the year of the woman election, except this time, women did double duty. they not only brought record numbers of women to congress, they pulled this president's election out of the fire. >> this election is as historic as the women's suffrage movement. they were fighting for their right to vote. this time we exercised our right to vote. when women come together, we have strength in numbers. >> this is the year when voters said enough is enough.
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when you look at the races, folks were saying they weren't so much voting for mccaskill or donnelly, they were voting against akin and mourdock in those races. >> while we remain a nation divided, i think the diversity we'll see in congress is reflective of the voter demographics we see in our nation. >> well, we remain a nation divided, but, clearly, the g.o.p. at this point is in reformation mode because of the changing demographics of the united states. what do you think is first and foremost in the party's mind in terms of reattracting women voters to the fold? >> there is such a sense of urgency, i can tell you, at this point. and so many people are talking. jeb bush said it so clearly when he said, it's about the tone. in this particular election, we were focused so much on the economic issues and, you know, thinking with the head and, really, i think, especially for
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women voters, in particular, it's the heart issues as well. so whether -- >> well -- >> on the abortion issues, it was about the tone and the messaging. >> it's the messaging's advocacy. >> -- in reaching out and talking to the women voters. >> i agree 100%. i think if akin and mourdock had said what they said in completely different ways, all right, we wouldn't have had the backlash we had. eleanor pointed this out -- women delivered obama's race because they weren't about to put up from the nonsense that was coming from the right. >> with the statements from mourdock and akin, women wanted romney to denounce it. women wanted the party to denounce it, and romney never came out to denounce it. bottom line is this -- we played it too safe, we didn't think women were monolithic voters or cared about the economy, but when it comes to legitimate rape
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and abortion, women stood together. >> i wish that's all it was, really, but the whole year, particularly when republicans took over so many state legislators, that's when the war on women, if you forgive me, began. you had record numbers of anti-contraceptive and and antiabortion laws, even a tax on equal pay laws, the congress with the blunt amendment on where they actually had a vote on whether or not insurance policies ought to include contraception if the boss is in disagreement. so you can talk messenger all you want to or two members who clearly revealed the rubbish in the republican party, but, let's face it, women had a whole year, and then they had the republican primary to see it big and bold -- all anti-woman,
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personhood -- all the things the majority of the women are clearly not for. >> okay, but let me ask you this -- >> sure. >> -- in the reformation to havo have -- of the republican party, is that going to be dropped? >> the reform? >> are the social issues going to go the way that this election said they should go? >> i don't believe that the ultra conservatives and the key party will be the engines that will drive this party next go around. what we have to do is change the tonthe. and i think what impacted us in the vp debate when paul ryan was asked about roe vs. wade, that scared women about back alley abortion. >> we can't talk about women as the unified block. you've got the white married woman that went with romney.
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96% of african-americans, 76% hispanic, minority coalition and the single women that obviously the democrats did a smart play with the single women in threatening -- and i got a bunch of those direct mail pieces saying, oh, the republicans are going to take away your access to contraception, which is totally not true. >> oh, i'm sorry -- >> wait, wait, wait. >> sure. >> first of all, i want to switch to women in congress. we'll get to more how people voted in the next segment. so the republican party lost two moderate women, kay bailey hutchison and olympia snow. is the republican party going to try to lure back women like that to run for the senate in the house? >> they need to. even when i ran for office in 2010, no one was out to recruit me as a woman. no one was out to recruit me as a black woman, and they need to
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revamp the nrcc on how they recruit. democrats are good at going out and seeking diversity. we seek the white, wealthy males that are a part of the establishment or have given to the establishment. >> if you look at the demographic after the election of the democrat and republican party, it says it all. the democratic party for the first time is majority women and minorities. the republican party the majority white male, and that's the story that's here. absolutely. in fact, our organization which has been endorsing and supporting moderate republican women for 38 years, when there is almost no one left to support. we lost judy biggert, who is the only pro-choice republican in congress. she just got defeated. so the secret of the revisitation of the republican party is women and hopefully moderate women. >> you're very right about recruiting women to run. i'm amazed that three or four
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times as many democratic women got elected this time as republican women. >> because they ran! >> and hats off. >> because they were encouraged to run. >> they ran, were encouraged and supported, because it takes more than having just the passion to want to run. the party has to support you, raise dollars for you and get the vote out. >> it has to not kill you. no. seriously. we have a number of republican women who get attacked by their own party. >> i'm one of them. >> there is republican women running right now who are attacked by their own party, and that's what we have to fix. >> i want to hear more about this. you were out all during the campaign helping women, pro-choice women of both parties and you ran for congress as a republican. >> that's right. >> what do you see the republican party has to do to get women like you back in the fold?
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>> i left the republican party because of reproductive choices and options and in my 30-some years of being a voter i've watched myself go from being a moderate republican, a liberal republican, to a conservative democrat to a liberal democrat in 30 years. >> have you changed? >> my values haven't changed. my hope is that the republican party looks at these outcomes, gets the message that all they need to do is encourage republican women just like you, angela, to run. >> women who are pro-life to run as well. >> and my hope is this gave the republican party a lesson they needed to hear, the same lesson why snow resigned. >> why do you think abortion became a winning issue?
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>> the exit polls show at the end it was a pocketbook issue that drove the women to vote the way they did. and that's clearly in the exit poles. you can't say it's just abortion rights. in certain swing districts, where it's more urban -- >> that's denial. >> our country is more pro-life. in the last gallup pole -- >> that's not true at all. we don't have any problem with pro-life women or -- >> no -- >> bush got elected, he was a pro-life president. every republican is going to be pro-life. >> not every. >> the fact is that there was no room in the republican party for anybody who was pro-life, and women are pro-choice. to say it didn't matter to women is not to have gotten the message. there was value added in these
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reproductive issues. >> all right, and we are out of time. from women politicians to the women's vote. cari stein reports. >> after months of predictions about how women would vote in the presidential election, the guessing is over. women who are 54% of the electorate voted in record numbers and voted overwhelmingly for president barack obama. 55% of the women's vote went to obama. 44% to romney. unmarried women backed president obama by a 38 percentage point margin over romney, child 53% of married women preferred romney. the gender gap for president barack obama was 10 percentage points this time, a gain from 7 points in 2008. >> sam bennett, why did women vote in record numbers this year? what energized them? >> well, you can put a stick in the beehive just so many times
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and eventually, bees are going to come out. it started in the republican party debates where you saw this anti-woman, anti-choice rhetoric unmitigated on top of 1100 pieces of legislation introduced across the country this election cycle at the state legislative level mitigating a woman's ability to even get access to something as basic as birth control. so i think what we had was an unprecedented environment. i like to call it the parable of the boiling frog. you throw the frog in the boiling pot of water, they hop out. but if you keep the frog in the boiling pot of water, it boils to death. women jumped out of the pot of boil water was the level of attack was so significant, so long, so unmitigated, they said enough is enough. >> women are not monolithic, because if you see in certain states where mitt romney lost,
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you have rep women who did win. so i think because of the negative primaries and because of akin and mourdock stating illegitimate rape, women wanted obama in but had to split the vote to keep republicans in the house. >> look at mccaskill's race. >> she won because she went against the first one who said women can't get pregnant if they're raped legitimately. >> i want to get to the part which evangelicals are a big chunk of the republican block. what happened to them and particularly evangelical women this time? >> again, i think there was always the question of religion and no one wanted to state the obvious which is governor romney's religion being mormon and whether that would impact the vote and it seemed it did impact the vote this time. it's very unfortunate because i think, at the end, what we need in america would have been a
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president that could push our economy forward and do what we need to do do get out of the economic crisis we have been in. you know, really, it's unfortunate when 2 million less people voted this time. >> even in the swing state of virginia, you had less evangelicals come out as they did for mccain in 2008. 6% to 8% stayed at home. >> you would hope we could cross the race and religion barrier. >> but let me ask you this -- granted, i thought the republican field from the beginning was incredibly weak. >> absolutely. >> but i saw republicans, once romney got the nomination, partisans gathering around him and saying, oh, the mormon issue isn't going to matter. and it did matter. there are evangelicals who see mormons as a sect and not christian, and they did stay home. so my question is, in reforming the party, will republicans say
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to themselves, hey, wait a minute, we goofed up by not getting somebody more conservative and somebody christian who would appeal to evangelical christians. could they read the results that way? >> the right to life and the sanctity of marriage will always be a part of the platform. >> always. how smart is that? >> the mormon religion did play a role, but also, mitt romney flip-flopped on same-sex marriage, they perceived that and also the abortion issue. so evangelicals can -- >> i think the republican party has become overly dependent on its evangelicals, and the real question is do they have anybody to replace them with. once they begin to appeal more broadly as these are mostly older people, as these people pass, you really will have a big hole left in their party. >> and that points to important demographics.
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single women voted for obama in 2008 and they voted for him in 2012. but the problem is the percentage of the population that are single women skyrocketed and the number of latinos in this country who are voting age skyrocketed. so for the republicans to -- and remember, we're non-partisan organization here, but let's talk about tactics, if the republican party can find its way to embrace immigration, sound immigration policy and figure out a middle road on how to talk about at least birth control, which 71% of identified pro-life republican women believe women should be making the decision themselves, not the government. that makes them, by some definition, pro-choice. so the republican party has to figure that out and figure out the issue of what to -- >> last word -- >> when you look at how african-americans came out for president obama, it really shows that a vote is so personal, and it really goes back to if it's the christian who wants to vote
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for a christian or an african-american who wants to vote for an african-american, it really comes down to when they go to the ballot box and makes their choice. >> you're saying there is no major reformation of issues needed for the g.o.p.? because they're losing issues from here on out. >> there is the economic perspective, and from that message on it's free enterprise and pushing small business and that economic message which i think very much favors the republicans, but there is broader issues like immigration reform where we need to work together with the democrats. that, i think, will help to let the latinos know republicans get it and we can work with you and bring you into the party, of course. >> we're out of time. let us know what you think. please follow me on twitter at bonnie erbe or at to the
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contrary. behind the headlines: when we come back, we are not looked at as veterans. women in the service is expected to double over the next few years. we spoke with women vets about their needs as they trandigs back to civilian life. >> when we come back, we're not looked at as veterans. people think, oh, you just served, you didn't have any combat. i was actually told that i wasn't even in a combat zone, and i was in iraq. i'm, like, i was in iraq, i got bombed every other day. >> you get told a lot, oh you're just a girl. no, no i'm not just a girl. i'm a soldier, a soldier first. >> there are estimated 1.9 million women veterans in the us. another 50,000 servicewomen are still expected to return from iraq and afghanistan. many of these soldiers are coming back with physical injuries, but they also are incurring invisible, emotional injuries. >> i was sexually harassed a lot. i was the shift leader, and i was amongst men that weren't
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used to having a female reservist in charge of them. when they did a post deployment checku me, they couldn't figure out what was wrong. i wasn't handling it well. i didn't sleep. i didn't eat. my moods were so erratic, and i didn't know what was going on with me. >> veteran bridgette mccoy, says women veterans face different challenges than their male counterparts. mccoy says their transition is made more difficult because the system is not equipped to deal with women's issues. >> it's everything from losing their children because of having the diagnosis of ptsd or bipolar or borderline personality, so losing their children to social services, housing issues, access to the financial services, homelessness, medical care.
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>> mccoy says women veterans need economic and social supports. >> if you throw money at the situation, it's not going to just solve it. there has to be the financial part and then the social part. so i say socioeconomic. layla, bridgette and alicia say there just isn't enough awareness about the challenges faced by disabled women veterans. to bring these issues to light, they became involved in a documentary last year. >> when you get shot at, it doesn't matter if you're male or female. >> their stories are featured in "service: when women come marching home." >> i think it is important to share the stories of women. the fact that we struggled getting out there that women in the military shouldn't be forgotten is important.
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>> the women veterans also have a strong presence on facebook. they say social media has helped them share their stories, heal and raise awareness. >> why, mercy, do they have different issues from men? >> jessica goodlet went to afghanistan and her job was to pick up the pieces of the body parts to have the soldiers. can you imagine having that experience and coming home and trying to emotionally deal with that? women, from an emotional standpoint, we deal with things differently. university of nevada, they're doing research on the h hormonas of ptsd. what women have to deal with when they come home from behind the lines is incredible. >> essentially, women in these wars are in combat. they're in the military police. there is no combat zone of the kind we knew before. they're right out there side by
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side and, by the way, not treated equally when it comes to pay and rank. at the same time, when they go back to where people go to rest, they are treated as women, and they are facing terrible, horrendous sexual harassment. so you put on top of what is a front-on experience, sexual harassment, you get something very different from -- >> and someone who has suffered from posttraumatic stress and the hormone levels, i was not getting where i was supposed to and it did not up my hormone levels. i can afford to go to different doctors, but for veterans across the board is not a level playing field, but being a woman imagine going from hormonal problems, ptsd and effects from the sidelines, so that's why it impacts us differently. >> what does the military need to do to help these women. >> i'm an ex-marine's daughter,
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an rotc trainer in college and had ptsd from the sexual abuse i had growing up, so i think what the military needs to do is acknowledge that women suffer from an undue burden when they're in the military and congresswoman pointed to it, men do not experience sexual harassment in the military, women do. so you create this molotov cocktail of posttraumatic stress disorder on top of sexual abuse on top of not being paid as much as your male counterparts and the other restrictions you deal with, the military needs to face this head on and deal with it. >> put the secretary of defense panetta already said six months ago it was not going to be stood for anymore. is that enough? >> i don't think it's enough. there has to be the programs in place. it's changing a culture and institution that's been in place for a very long time. >> a male-oriented culture. >> let me make a statement.
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until you have diversity sensitivity training and change the culture and make women more welcome in the military, it's not going to change. >> that's it for this edition of "to the contrary." please follow me on twitter at bonnie erbe and at "to the contrary" and check our website,, where the discussion continues. whether you agree or think to the contrary, please join us next time.
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